Writing Is Self-Therapy
“You need to mark in the circle! You need to get back on defense! You need to pass sooner!”
I wanted to bark these orders at every single player on the field. It was the fourth quarter of the high school field hockey game and my team just went down 4-0.
My urge to immediately fix the problem stemmed from insecurity. Everyone in the stadium must have thought I was a bad coach and let the game slip away.
But then I had a moment of clarity and realized this was just a story I was telling myself.
I thought of Kobe Bryant, who once spoke about coaching his daughter’s basketball team and said it wasn’t his job to give them the answers. It was his job to get them to ask questions and process things on their own:
“When the game is being played... I sit down and I’m quiet. And the kids figure things out for themselves. Or they don’t, and then they come back and there’s always questions. But then you see their level of excitement to practice every day increase because it’s a process that they are owning. They’re not coming to get orders barked at them every day. They’re coming for their personal quest to get better.”
So I channeled my inner Kobe and took a step back - literally - away from the sideline. And I watched. And took notes for things we could work on in practice. And cheered the girls on to keep their spirits up for the last few minutes of play.
All of this happened thanks to my writing habit.
Every week, I write about my internal struggles and work through them. I consume content and take notes on what inspires me. And then when a hot, prickly sensation arises in my chest, whether it be from a confrontation with my sister, a heated argument with my husband, or losing a field hockey game, I’m able to connect the dots of my own insights with something I learned on a podcast interview with Kobe Bryant.
I synthesize my learnings and ideas and publish them. Then every time I feel the familiar sensation of anxiety, panic, or any strong emotion, I have the self-awareness to ask myself what’s going on. Rather than react instinctively and emotionally, I can pause, reflect, and make a more rational and thoughtful decision when I act.
Writing has become my version of meditation. It allows me to sit in the seat of awareness during those fight or flight moments and it brings me clarity when I need it most.
After the game I asked if our three captains wanted to speak to the team.
One by one, they said in their own words how proud they were of everyone and how awesome we played. Other girls chimed in to say they were tired but in way more shape than last year. Everyone couldn’t wait for the chance to play this team again. There was an overwhelming feeling of excitement and possibility for the rest of the season.
A school administrator emailed me the next day: “The players had such a good time at the game, they were so excited at school!”
I used to think success was determined by wins. But it’s not. Success is simply a byproduct of learning and self-awareness.
Thanks to Florian Maganza for feedback on this essay.